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Heisenji Hakusan Shrine

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Heisenji Hakusan Shrine


Delve into the fascinating secrets of an enigmatic moss-covered site


Fukui Prefecture


Tucked away in a beautiful forest of untamed lush greenery of Katsuyama, Fukui Prefecture, Heisenji was founded by a high priest named Taicho as a Buddhist temple in 717, which quickly grew into one of the largest centers of faith in the whole country.


The sprawling complex―which served as a base for pilgrimages to the holy mountain of Hakusan―was home to thousands of monks until it was burned to the ground during an uprising in the late 16th century. Later, Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) enforced the formal separation of Shintoism and Buddhism in the 1870s and as a result, Heisenji Hakusan Shrine became a rare example of a Shinto shrine with a name ending in -ji, which means temple in Japanese.



The otherworldly site, known for its velvety carpet of shimmering green moss and towering Japanese cedars, perfectly embodies the spirit of Wabi Sabi, which celebrates the elusive beauty of imperfection. It is said that many people have had their wishes granted here, making the place a spiritual hotspot believed to be flowing with mystical energy.


Still wrapped in a mystery, the 200 hectares on which the prosperous precincts once stood are now the object of an ongoing archeological excavation. One can only guess what kind of fascinating secrets are still buried underground.



How to get there


From Osaka Station or Nagoya Station, take a Limited Express train to JR Fukui Station (about 2 hours) and transfer to a train to Katsuyama Station (50 minutes). The Heisenji Hakusan Shrine is 10 to 15 minutes from there by bus or taxi.


Heisenji, Heisenji-cho, Katsuyama-shi, Fukui-ken



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